WORKING WITH COLOR

Vincent Van Gogh - Bedroom at Arles (1888)
Ernst-Ludwig Kirchner -
Sertig Valley (1930)
Mark Rothko -
Orange and Yellow (1956)
"I feel blue".  "She was so angry she saw red".  "He was green with envy".  It is no accident that we refer to colors
when we express emotions -- colors do have emotional effects on us. Most people think of red and red-orange as
the colors of greatest excitement; blue and blue-violet seem peaceful and serene; yellow is the most cheerful.  Look
around the next time you eat in a fast food restaurant -- chances are it is decorated with warm, bright colors to give
it a lively and appealing atmosphere.  But an additional effect of all that red and orange is to stimulate people to eat
faster and not linger so the next person can get in and out as quickly as possible, too!

We all have favorite colors, although it may be difficult to express in words just why we prefer one color over
another, or why one color makes us feel differently than another does.  Our reaction to colors is almost instinctive,
and we do not need to know the "facts" about color to know what we like.  Like everyone else, artists too are
affected by color in ways that are impossible to articulate.  Perhaps as keen observers of the visual world, they are
even more sensitive to it, and it is not surprising that many artists have created their own vocabularies of color.  In
every painting we see, the colors used -- and more specifically, the ways in which they are combined and
juxtaposed -- give us an immediate feeling about the picture and help establish a particular mood.  Which colors
would you choose to paint a wet, cold Monday morning feeling, or a warm and happy holiday feeling?

Vincent Van Gogh once wrote, "Instead of trying to reproduce exactly what I see before me, I use color arbitrarily in
order to express myself more forcibly".  In a very real sense, he was speaking for the generations of artists who
followed him who were less concerned with accurately representing the real world than they were in putting emotion
in their paintings.  Color is the natural vehicle for this.  In this
GalleryTime session we examine paintings by three
artists -- Van Gogh, Ernst-Ludwig Kirchner, and Mark Rothko -- who each, in highly individual ways, used color to
express his emotions and inner vision.
Bedroom at Arles
Sertig Valley
Orange and Yellow